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Ventilation and Air Purification

In addition to other public health measures, ventilation plays a role in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 indoors. Ventilating a room or indoor space replaces the indoor air with outdoor air. This will dilute and replace air contaminated with COVID-19 virus or other air pollutants. Ventilation systems in Toronto Metropolitan’s buildings recirculate air through the HVAC system, where some of the indoor air is diluted with outdoor air and filtered before returning to the occupied space.  

Toronto Metropolitan University follows the industry best practices for filter replacement and our air filters meet or exceed the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating recommendations — for filtering fine particles in the air — and guidelines put forward by American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and Public Health.

Steps taken to ensure ventilation in indoor spaces meets best practices

The university worked with a consultant to ensure that best practices and standards for HVAC ventilation and filtration with regards to COVID-19 are implemented. Since the onset of the pandemic, the university has taken additional steps to ensure appropriate ventilation in indoor spaces to extract air contaminants and bring in fresh air:

The university has measured airflow rates in classrooms, studios and teaching labs, study spaces, and additional identified spaces. We have tested more than 700 spaces consisting of classrooms, special rooms such as studios (dance, recording, etc.), workshops, shared work areas (10+ people), library study areas, RAC, SLC. To enhance the air quality in light of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards, portable air purification units have been installed in certain spaces.

95% of buildings on campus have MERV 13 filters (recommended by top health officials and ASHRAE) installed. Where MERV 13 filters have not been installed, air quality has been enhanced with portable air purifiers.

Investing strategically in upgrading HVAC systems, such as in the Early Learning Centre.

Toronto Metropolitan’s facilities team regularly inspects and replaces the air filters in all air handling units that are responsible for removing particles in the air such as dust, smoke, allergens, airborne bacteria and other pathogens.

In addition, the university has also implemented the following strategies:

Confirmed that washroom fans, which are designed for higher air circulation, meet the recommended standards. Currently all washroom fans run continuously.

Which areas were tested and why?

  • A risk-based approach was used in identifying spaces. Classrooms and other instructional spaces were selected due to the number of individuals using and the type of activity. Lower risk areas, such as individual offices, open work and study spaces and common areas were not assessed as individuals using these spaces are alone.

After extensive reviewing of our plans with Toronto Metropolitan's in-house teams and experts, contracting with an external engineering firm and sharing experiences with other Ontario universities, we are confident that we have taken all reasonable steps with our HVAC systems to help protect the health and safety of our community members.